Fit Life

Let’s talk workouts! I’ve been going back and forth with how to split my routine throughout the week and I think I came up with the dynamic that works best for me.

*Please forgive the rattiness of the paper in which my workouts are scrolled. It’s been through a lot this week and its appearance cannot be helped.

This week of workouts started on Sunday with some bicep and shoulder action. As last week included six sets of eight- sometimes a drag- this week was four sets of twelve reps so we were focused on endurance and power! Performed in circuit fashion, I did six exercises of each muscle group before continuing on for the next three sets. After my biceps and shoulders had their fill, I moved onto core exercises, which I try to do every day.  For cardio, I had walked with my mom and the dog beforehand, so I headed out.

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On Monday, it was time for the triceps and chest! Similar set up for this round: six exercises for each muscle group, four sets, twelve reps. Burn! More core work followed up with cardio- heavy ropes, tabata style, and a few minutes on the row machine.

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Day Three brought us to the leg and back portion of the week. I like the combination of legs/back especially when it comes to deadlifts and bent-over rows because those muscle groups are working hard together to get the exercises done. The difference in this day is that I did not perform each exercise circuit style, but completed all sets and reps of one before moving on. It takes more time, but the set up on these are more complicated than just grabbing a kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells as I had to fix up the barbells and the cables, running all over the gym. I did finish the core part via circuit and got some good jump roping time in there.

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Today was run day and the weather was spectacular! It’s 70 degrees in early March, no snow or ice on the ground, and I can’t help but feel a little giddy. I snapped these pictures mid-run, so go ahead and be impressed!

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Since it was so nice, I wanted to extend the run and make it a little more special. I haven’t run around the lake since early fall when I was trekking out for 6.25-10 miles on the regular. As you might remember, I had to cut back because my muscles were overexerted, causing my feet to fall asleep! I’ve kept it to about four miles ever since, but the push felt nice today! 6.25 miles overall!

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Look at this view!

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The very worst part of this workout was the final climb back home. I walked it and it’s all uphill and after a long run, I was struggling. Phew! Happiness and a little bit of pain is pretty much the grounds for a solid run!

Since I’m nice, I’ll also give you a sneak peek of Thursday’s total body workout. This one is kettlebell and plyometric heavy and I’m already feeling tired! I tried to incorporate some compound movements into the routine as well. We’ll see how well that jump roping and sprints come out at the end.

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Friday will include some kind of cardio and then Saturday is a much-deserved rest day!

Happy exercising! If it’s nice out, take it outside, even if it’s just for a walk!

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Legs As White As Snow

At dinner over the weekend, I wore one of my new dresses and was feeling really good about myself. My calves are my best features as they have been honed by strength training and running and I’m quite proud of them. We were standing around talking before heading out and my aunt asked me if I put anything on my legs. My initial assumption was to believe that she was complimenting them in some way as they may have looked shiny or something, but then she said, “Oh, I thought you were wearing white stockings.”

Listen, it’s been a long, bleary winter. Forgive me if my body is pasty and as white as snow.

I can’t believe at this point that Monday has already come and gone and we are into Tuesday. When my alarm went off in the morning, officially signaling the end of the weekend, I wanted to just snuggle into my pillow a little deeper. I had a bit of trouble falling asleep last night because my mind was racing with writing ideas. This is a positive, but I’m also tired, though as the day turned out, I didn’t feel overly tired.

Instead of rolling over, I rolled myself out of bed and threw on my clothes. I went through my usual routine and once I got to the gym, I started with some plank action. I’m alternating between full planks and forearm planks to mix things up. After, I meandered over to the barbells to run through circuit training. For each move, I performed reps by 10x8x6x4 going up in weight, then finished at a medium weight with 8x8x8. By the end, my muscles were feeling the effects of hard work. To throw in some cardio, I jumped on the treadmill for five minutes of sprints before doing some box jumps, jumping jacks, and jump rope. It was an excellent way to start the week!

Breakfast was a glorious invention my Aunt Dawn recommended. It’s an egg sandwich maker that allows you to cook everything within five minutes. All I had to do was throw in an English muffin, cheese, ham, and an egg. It came out toasty, melty, and delicious. It kept me full for a long while too and I wasn’t hungry again until it was lunchtime! Some fruit added to the meal.

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I made a couple of stir frys for the week on Sunday and this is one of them. Welcome back chicken teriyaki meatballs! I mixed my veggies with a little teriyaki sauce over buckwheat noodles and happily chowed down for lunch.

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No extra snack was needed as it was someone’s birthday at work and we had ice cream cake to celebrate. My favorite kind of anything!

For dinner, we broiled scallops- one of the best kinds of seafood!- and enjoyed them with some lobster ravioli. Spinach, peppers, and mushrooms were a nice added touch in the marinara sauce.

  
Nothing really else exciting to report except that I am trying to convince myself that my runny nose, deep cough, and chest burn are all to do with allergy symptoms rather than that terrible chest cold/flu that is going around. I can’t be sick for the beginning of May!

When Your Legs Feel Strong, Run With It!

Workouts this week were a bit upset due to the storm. On Wednesday, I was sore from all the shoveling and standing all day, so I didn’t do any sort of official workout. I was back to it on Thursday for my early morning workout, despite growing quickly accustomed to sleeping in a tad later than 5:00 AM!

On Thursday, my legs were itching for some quality cardio, so I started out with a body strength workout, including box jumps, dips, lunges, squats, kickbacks, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, crunches, Russian twists, and finishing up with a few planks. After, I hopped onto the treadmill for a run that left me nice and sweaty.

Friday morning was difficult to get up. Due to a few flakes still falling, I wasn’t certain if it was too slippery at that point, but things didn’t seem bad, so I got my butt out of bed and to the gym. I went through a difficult dumbbell strength routine, performing 2 sets of 12 reps, 1 set of 10 reps, 1 set of 8 reps, 1 set of 6 reps, and 1 set of 4 reps. My arms and shoulders were quite sore throughout the day after that. To top off my workout, I hopped onto the elliptical for 25 minutes of interval training.

I met my sister at the gym on Saturday night before we went out for dinner and led us through a strength routine using medicine and stability balls. We finished with planks before moving onto cardio. I got back onto the treadmill and found I was feeling very strong and felt the urge to run faster than usual. When that happens, you can’t fight it, because so often it’s the opposite and you’re itching to get it over with! I was sad when I ended up .08 away from an even 3 miles because the gym was closing and I had to leave!

Knowing that it would be busy on Sunday morning due to the big game later on, I headed out for a late morning workout expecting to be frazzled by all the people. It actually wasn’t too bad and I was able to get through a barbell strength routine. I did my usual routine, but mixed up my sets and reps to trick my body. I did 2 sets of ten reps, 2 sets of 8 reps, and 2 sets of 6 reps, going up in weight each time. For my bench presses, I tacked on 2 sets of 4 reps and was able to lift 100 pounds! It was pretty exciting, considering I can’t be too risky when I don’t have anyone spotting me. For my cardio, I did 25 minutes on the elliptical, but then I was still riding high on those endorphins and decided to fit in another 15 minutes of running.

Monday morning with the looming snow and a series of heavy workouts the days before was a scheduled rest day. Have no fear, I got plenty of movement in with the shoveling once again. It was a little painful to hear the alarm blaring on Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM, but I got myself up and fit in a body strength routine, some Yoga, and a quick bike ride at home.  The snow can’t keep me down!

Some kettle bells were on the menu as I completed a few sets of swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and rows. After, I hopped on the treadmill for a run, which felt good to get moving after being held in captivity due to all the snow. So. Much. Snow.

It’s good to know that even though there are days when working out seems overwhelming or like the last thing your body wants to do, there are also days when you feel super strong and like you could conquer the world. The important thing is to always listen to your body!

Fuel Your Fire

My title is actually the slogan I have on two of my new workout pants. I bought them because they were cheap and great material, even if the slogan is a bit silly. I have to say though, as far as workout inspirational quotes go, this one provides decent motivation and is kind of fun!

Workouts this week started on Thursday morning with a strength workout using the stability ball. It was heavy on the legs before hopping on the treadmill for a run. I felt sweaty and energized and ready to get the day going!

On Friday, my only workout for the day was a quick walk of the dog around the block because i had an early morning wake up call and I was sore!

I was ready to go on Saturday to meet Nouha for hot Yoga. The class was stuffed, which made the already heated room, stuffy. I was slick with sweat and a bit disgusting when I sat down for lunch and couldn’t wait to shower. I waited a little bit longer so I could fit in a run after hydrating. It felt good to stretch my legs and get my heart racing.

On Sunday, after lunch, I started my workout with a dumbbell strength training routine. I went with six sets of eight reps and was nice and sweaty before I kicked off a Plyometrics workout. Starting with box jumps, I continued onto jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, jump rope, and ended my circuit with push ups. Besides the jumping jacks which I completed four sets of fifty and jump rope which was a minute and fifteen seconds long four times, I did four sets of twelve. Finally, I finished with a quick twenty minutes on the elliptical, knowing it would be a heavy eating night with all those apps.

Monday turned out to be busier than I expected and I didn’t make it to the gym for a full on workout. I was on my feet most of the day, grocery shopping, readying my meals for the week around the kitchen, and folding my laundry. I ended up just walking the dog for two miles and riding the stationary bike at home for forty five minutes while I watched Veep and typed up some blog posts, such as this one!

Tuesday, it was back to the early mornings with a kettlebell strength routine followed by a run. I was feeling nice and strong after having done a lighter workout the day before after two heavier days. Even though it’s on the treadmill, my running has been stable and I’m finding that with the right music, I’m able to stave off boredom.

When I’m not feeling like a straight up run, I have two running routines I go to on the treadmill. One is the 5-4-3-2-1 run/walk combination that leaves me nice and sweaty and my body constantly second guessing itself as I move throw different speeds and inclines. Starting off with a five minute walk on a lower incline, I move onto a five minute run on a flat surface at a slower pace. For four minutes, I walk again at a slightly higher incline, before running for four minutes at a faster pace. I think you get the pattern. By that last minute, I’m running pretty fast. This takes me to 30 minutes on the nose, which is great. To make things even more challenging, I like to walk for one more minute before ending my routine with Tabata intervals for four minutes. That’s only 35 minutes in the treadmill with a great workout!

The other treadmill run I’ll incorporate is pretty fun and it’s also about 35 minutes, though either could be elongated or shortened. I start running on the flat surface at a medium pace for five minutes. Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either then slow things down to a light run or a brisk walk and turn up the incline for another five minutes. Next, I’ll lower the incline back to 0 and rev up my pace so I’m running fast for the next five minutes. I repeat this cycle once more before ending with a final medium pace run. These are both good workouts because it changes up the pace and the incline, which prevents the body from making adjustments.

Anything that can be deemed fun and interesting always leads to a better workout, especially if you’re not in the mood to be inside in a stuffy treadmill. Do any of you have any go to workouts?

Early Morning Workout Calls

Thus far, I have proven successful at this whole waking up early and working out thing. Tuesday was a true test of determination due to the cold, wet, and slippery driving conditions that could have been reason enough for me to roll over and sleep longer. Thing is, I didn’t sleep well the night before for whatever reason and when my alarm went off, I was ready to get up.

Last Thursday when I took my regularly scheduled rest day, I found I felt more tired during the day even though I slept a whole hour and forty-five minutes longer than usual. There’s something about starting the day with a workout that pumps you up and keeps you energized. The trick is getting up in the first place.

Because I had not woken up on Thursday, I found it more agonizing on Friday when my alarm went off, but once I was awake, I was feeling strong. I fit in a great dumbbell strength circuit before heading over to do a Plyometrics cardio workout, including jump rope, box jumps, jumping jacks, high knees, and skater jumps.

On Saturday, it was cold and rainy, which meant I wouldn’t be able to fit in my long run. As much as I missed my one chance at an outdoor run, I improvised at the gym with a ton of interval training. For each move, I performed an exercise for twenty seconds and rested for ten seconds for four minutes. This included box jumps, kettlebell swings, squats, lunges, bicep curls, mountain climbers, push ups, Russian twists, jump roping, and bicycling among others. I finished off my workout with a few sprints on the treadmill before slowing down the pace and ran for twenty minutes. I left feeling nice and sweaty.

I was battling a few odd ailments on Sunday, including a pretty bad headache and a twinge in my ear, so I decided it was in my best interest to take a day off from the gym.

This ended up being the right call and I was good and ready to wake up on Monday and get going. I went through my usual barbell workouts, four sets of ten reps, and was able to move up my weights on a few of the moves. I contemplated running for my cardio, but didn’t have the right shoes, so I did twelve minutes on the elliptical and followed it up with another version of Plyometrics. Now that I have more of a set routine, I can workout for about an hour and fifteen minutes, which is a perfect amount of time!

As I mentioned, Tuesday brought a snow-covered car and frozen windshield, but the heat was quick to warm things up and I took it slow driving to the gym. To kick things off, I went through a body strength workout of step ups, lunges, dips, squats, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, Russian twists, and hundred v ups. For a little extra ab work, I did some planks. My intention, like every Tuesday, was to swim, but the weather didn’t keep people away like I predicted, and the pool was so crowded! Not wanting to waste any time, I threw my workout clothes back on and ran up to the treadmill to fit in a long run. My only obstacle was trying to keep things interesting while I whittled away forty minutes. Loud, fun music helps things along!

For my Wednesday workout, I grabbed the kettlebells and went through an exhausting circuit workout that included for one set- swings, goblet squats, elbow to knee shoulder presses with step ups, high pulls, and lunging arrows, and another set of kickback rows, tricep pullovers, mermaid raises, hundred leg lifts, and Russian twists. For some cardio, I spent some time jump roping before taking to the elliptical.

Thus far, I’m digging the morning workouts and how it makes me feel. As time goes, it will either turn into a certified habit or steer me towards evening workouts. As I said before, it’s a choice when I want to workout, but not a choice whether or not I workout at all. Choose options of the usual when, where, what, how, and why that work best for you and get to it!

Baby It’s Cold Outside For A Run, But It Can Still Be Done

Workouts this past week started with that long run I mentioned I was going to do on Wednesday, but then I delayed it until Thursday. I’ve been making the four straight miles a regular routine and my only complaint is that in order to extend it to five, I’m going to have to incorporate more hills. I finished off with a mile walk and a good stretching session.

On Friday, I did a barbell strength workout that included five sets of ten bench presses, dead lifts, front rows, high pulls, squat presses, leg presses, bicep curls, front shoulder presses, tricep pullovers, and then finished up with some dumbbell bent-over flies and tricep push backs. After, I went through a difficult leg workout that included a ton of Plyometrics and left me feeling nice and sore the day after.

Even though my box jumps are still on the smallest box and I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest- or graceful- jumper in the world, it’s still a great workout. With them, I also did jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, single-leg hip lifts, squats, lunges, and push ups. I finished the day with a few minutes of jump rope.

After my leg-heavy workout on Friday, on Saturday, my legs were not feeling enthusiastic about the run I set out to do. Not helping was the fact that I was at the track where running is considerably more boring and it was freezing. I have a stand-by plan of attack for running outside in cold weather, which I prefer over the treadmill for as long as possible. I was not yet prepared for such frigidity and headed out in just a light jacket and nothing to protect more pore head. I could only get through two miles before meeting up with my parents and did two more miles run-walking.

Listening to my body, I took Sunday off and instead enjoyed the day with my family. On Monday, I was feeling a lot better and did a dumbbell workout that included bench presses, bicep curls, shoulder presses, front raises, rows, shoulder flies, and tricep extensions in a circuit of six sets of eight. Then I went over to the barbells and completed four sets of twelve of side dead lifts, squat presses, leg presses, and elevated bench presses. When I finished, I did some box jumps and jumping jacks before heading home and doing a quick ab workout.

The next day, I did a quick strength workout using the medicine balls. Starting with the dreaded burpees, arrow lunges, then did wall throws, squats, and standing kickbacks on the bosu. I used the stability ball to do a core/strength combined workout that included knee tucks, kneeling roll outs with my arms, pull overs with the medicine ball, elevated hip lifts, and roll outs lying down with my legs. To finish, I did another circuit that included mermaid raises, hundreds to v ups, ankle grabs, Russian twists, and push ups on the medicine ball. In the pool, I got in a mile swim incorporating a few sprints in there to make things harder and go a little more quickly.

Today, I headed out into the glorious sunshine and very cold temperature for another four mile run. This time, my legs were stronger and I was much more prepared for the cold. I threw on my athletic ear muffs that don’t slip and hold ear buds in place, a wrap around scarf, and two jackets. Though I was nice and warm, my one qualm with running outside in the winter is that my sweat turns clammy and my skin dries out easily. Yuck!

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I would like to point out that in this picture, my eyebrows are more defined and darker than they normally are. I think it’s because my hair is pulling my skin tighter than usual. Also, I may or may not have ran to a little Christmas music, depending on your reaction. But I will say that listening to Idina Menzel and Michael Buble sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was appropriate. For the record, I was also listening to other music interchangeably so I’m not a complete psycho.

I finished off my run with a two mile walk and then two more with my mom with the dog. When I got back, I did a short Yoga flow with a ton of planks and an ab workout that seemed to do the trick.

Next week for Workout Wednesday, I’ll include my game plan for working out during the holiday season!

For Exercise, Attitude Is Key

It took a few days, but it appears that I have caught up on my sleep. I felt fine throughout the day, except for my workouts where I felt weaker and drowsy. Part of this lack of motivation might stem from needing to freshen up my workouts, which is on the agenda for this weekend.

Last Thursday, I swam my fastest mile ever in just over 42-minutes. That sounds really slow, but a mile in my pool is 36 laps, back and forth equalling one. Swimming is a long process and can be boring, but I just kept going through storyline plots in my head. It also helped (time and focus) that I incorporated some sprints into my routine. It’s amazing how out of breath you can feel from swimming. I also had two kickball games, the first we won by a run and the second we lost by eight runs. I can’t say that felt spectacular but it was a fun season!

On Friday, I ran through another routine, starting with a quick barbell circuit of squat presses, bench presses, and deadliest among other moves. After, I moved on to three different kettlebell circuits. These are good because they work on both a cardio and strength level. When I get home, I went out for a quick two-mile run, anticipating that I wouldn’t have time on Saturday, before dropping some family off at the airport. It was good to get that extra workout in because it was Halloween and you better believe I indulged in some chocolate!

Saturday was a sister birthday celebration because we were born 9 days (and 3 years apart). We started with a shopping trip at Target to finalize Halloween costumes before making it in for a pretty intense Yoga class. It wasn’t an intensive workout, but it left me feeling a bit sweaty and much more alert and relaxed. I could have fallen asleep on that mat at the end (which is ironic because that’s how I slept that night and it wasn’t as easy).

Even though it was one of the meager forced trips, on Sunday, as I mentioned, I was able to go through a dumbbell circuit that included body strength moves in-between, followed by a measly 15 minutes on the Elliptical and a quick walk in the freezing cold. I didn’t feel better or worse for having gone and had I felt truly awful, I would have skipped it. However, sometimes there are just days where motivation is low, especially when weather is poor, and just the art of keeping to routine will make a huge difference to your approach.

Monday, I did my medicine ball routine. I couldn’t muster up the energy to do Burpees or work through my sets with my usual power. Sometimes, to get through certain moves that are trickier, it is good to envision yourself doing them and talking yourself up. In this case, I knew I would struggle through the rest of my workout if I did them, so I felt I was justified in skipping. It’s not as though I skipped out on an entire workout! I finished up with a 35 minute swim where I didn’t keep track of laps. My mom and I ended the night with a run/walk combination in the dark and it wasn’t that late!

On Tuesday, I did an hour of Yoga before going out for a four mile run that was a bit of a struggle, but finished strong. For me, my best mileage comes from the middle to end when I’m feeling my strongest. After all this time, it can still take my body awhile to adjust to running and not feel like it’s death. I’ve learned that if I stick through the first mile or so, I will usually get myself into a good rhythm and it won’t feel quite as burdensome. Quality music and a positive attitude will always help!

Today, I felt much stronger and revitalized, so I went through my barbell strength routine, a body strength/core combination workout, and finished up with five minutes of jump rope and five minutes of box jumps interval style. For my strength routine, I’m noticing that I am able to go up in a lot of weight. I’ve been rotating between four sets of ten and three sets of twelve, depending on the day, and they seem like the magical numbers. If I were to do lesser amount of moves in each routine, I would up my number of sets, which might be on tap for this next workout plan, in addition to more ab work and Yoga. I haven’t decided yet!

Tomorrow, I will write that post I promised about my excitement for November. Exciting things to come!